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Vote for the Doorman, Lou Puliafito (Psst... Also shop steward, IT specialist and grandad)

Updated 5 weeks ago
Vote for the Doorman, Lou Puliafito (Psst... Also shop steward, IT specialist and grandad)

Vote for the doorman... But despite sloppy, biased reporting, keep in mind that Lou Puliafito is also a union shop steward, host of a community television show, a former computer technology innovator and, most importantly - to him - a grandad and loving family caregiver.

First time I met Lou, I was wandering around Southpoint, observing the radical damage underway and checking in on the Wildlife Freedom Foundation Sanctuary. He happened to be there too and for similar reasons.

Related profile: Big Election Question: Who the Heck is Lou Puliafito?

Lou was doing what his opponent in this year's election for the New York State Assembly, 76th District, rarely does, that is, coming around without a camera in sight. His interest was not pegged to a political motive.

One thing I've learned, over the last couple of years when he became politically active, is that Lou Puliafito really does care, and he wants to make a difference.

What's that mean for Roosevelt Island?

Two years ago, running as an independent against the same well-financed opponent, he invited activist Frank Farance to come on his show and talk about RIOC's most recent contaminated drinking water scandal.

Incumbent assembly member Rebecca Seawright was having nothing to do with it. She still isn't, but the crisis is still there. Clear evidence of feces in Roosevelt Island playgrounds and parks water fountains had been uncovered, and while RIOC scrambled to cover it back up, Seawright preferred to talk about something else.

Anything else.

This matters because, denied any say in local government, community members have a limited set of firewalls protecting them from negligence, overreach and assorted screwups. Elected officials are one of them.

In July, Puliafito marched with concerned citizens in the Save Our Shoreline's protest. Seawright initially supported it but soon fell back behind the Cuomo/RIOC lines.
In July, Puliafito marched with concerned citizens in the Save Our Shoreline's protest. Seawright initially supported it but soon fell back behind the Cuomo/RIOC lines.
File photo.

But if the firewall's not plugged in, any IT specialist - like Lou Puliafito - can tell you, it might as well be a lampshade. 

Think of Rebecca Seawright as a lampshade and Puliafito as someone trying to make the lights work.

A quick note, unrequested by the candidate: For the last month, Lou Puliafito volunteered at Roosevelt Island's Free Food Pantry, every Friday. That, in sum, in my opinion, amounts to more than Seawright's contributed here in six years.

A quick quiz...

Okay, in 60 seconds, make a list of all the things Rebecca Seawright has accomplished for Roosevelt Island...

Tick, tick, tick...

How did you do?

Here's my list:

  • Uhm...
  • Wait, didn't she...?
  • She came here for Roosevelt Island Day!
  • And she supported the Save Our Shorelines protest..
  • ... until she didn't.
  • She writes nice letters.
Volunteering at the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association Free Food Pantry in the CBN/RI Senior Center.
Volunteering at the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association Free Food Pantry in the CBN/RI Senior Center.

But what's Puliafito going to do differently...

Unlike the incumbent, who's had six years to get something done, Puliafito's had a career in action, not inaction.

And he wants to continue. He's reached out to residents, including me, for input.

Here's what he's committed to:

  • Work for an elected RIOC board of resident directors.
  • Investigate the recent history of RIOC scandals: the unresolved contaminated water debacle; questionable awards of sweetheart contracts without meaningful competition; outright failure to deal with known toxic wastes throughout Southpoint.
  • Increase RIOC accountability by demanding more open government with community engagement.
  • Establish a residency requirement for RIOC's president.

The incumbent failed to act on any of these, but on the last, her actions are the most revealing.

For several years, while Republican control of the State Senate guaranteed that the law would never be passed, Seawright joined senator José Serrano in initiating legislation requiring RIOC's president to live in the community. It passed the Assembly but, predictably, failed in the Senate.

But two years ago, Democrats won senate control. And strangely, the dynamic duo failed to introduce the same legislation again, now that it was likely to pass.

I asked Seawright's office why. They said, "..........."

Conclusion

Lou Puliafito is running as an independent Liberal Party candidate, and he's secured Republican Party endorsement. Seawright's on the Rise and Unite line.

But this is about good governance, not politics. State assembly members don't make policy; instead, they make things happen. 

Puliafito tells us that he will work across the aisle with Democrats to get things done for Roosevelt Island, starting with reforming RIOC.

Seawright? Realistically, she'll wait for the next memo from Cuomo's office or the undisclosed phone call telling her what her position is.

She's had six years. It's time for a change.

This article was paid for by the Lou Puliafito for State Assembly Campaign.

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